Dundee captain Darren O’Dea was always going to “leather” his penalty kick.
With the Dark Blues playing well but still trailing Ross County 1-0, O’Dea took the responsibility after referee Nick Walsh pointed to the spot on 76 minutes.
Cammy Kerr was fouled inside the Staggies’ box by Craig Curran and the Dens skipper grabbed the ball before absolutely smashing it home.
Had the net not been there, the ball would have landed somewhere in the North Sea. Well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration but he fairly gave it some welly.
It turns out that it was only the second penalty of O’Dea’s career – the other came up at Dingwall in a 2-1 loss on April 4 – so he wanted to make sure.
“I have hardly taken a penalty in my career so it’s a bit new to me,” said a smiling O’Dea.
“I thought beforehand: ‘If there is any doubt in my head then I am going to leather this.’
“To be honest with you, for the first one away at Ross County there was a bit of pressure. In fact, there was no one on the pitch who had taken a penalty so there was a bit of responsibility on me to take it.
“This time, I was sure there were other people who would have taken it but I scored the last one so was happy to take it again.
“I think every footballer should be able to take one.
“Tom Hateley is the normal set-piece taker so he might have taken it if he had been on the pitch (he was substituted at half-time) but I was happy to score.
“It was great and it was what we deserved.”
O’Dea jumped for joy after scoring and then went over to the fans in the South Enclosure (also called the Derry) to celebrate, earning a yellow card by spoil-sport ref Walsh.
The Irishman said: “I said I was going into the Derry (if I scored) but that was weeks ago!
“It’s been an up and down season and it’s been tough on the players because we give everything but the fans have always been here.
“They have been here before me and they will be here after me.
“It was a bit of relief and I decided ages ago if I had scored I was going in.
“I took the booking but it was well worth it.”
The game was only three minutes old when Dundee keeper Scott Bain had to come to his team’s rescue, diving to palm away a curling shot from Michael Gardyne for a corner.
It wasn’t long, though, before Bain was beaten.
It was County’s star striker Liam Boyce – who else? – with his 22nd goal of the season, grabbing the fourth-minute opener with a close-range shot after the ball was knocked down by Curran following a cross from Martin Woods.
Some fine play from Curran opened up the home defence on 13 minutes but Bain raced off his line to do just enough to put the Dingwall man off.
It was all County at this stage and Woods ran half the length of the pitch with the ball before finally being challenged inside the six-yard box.
Dundee had to haul themselves up the pitch and they finally had a decent go at goal on 27 minutes when Faissal El Bakhtaoui shot from 20 yards, with County goalie Scott Fox getting down to save well.
El Bakhtaoui was at it again a couple of minutes later, this time firing over the bar from outside the box.
Kerr tried his luck from distance for the Dark Blues, with Fox well positioned to grab the ball, while Mark O’Hara headed over after he was picked out by a Kevin Holt cross.
It looked like the home team were starting to creep back into the game, with the Highlanders not enjoying as much of the ball as they had been.
And Dundee came within a whisker of an equaliser in first-half stoppage-time when Holt sent the ball over from the left and Paul McGowan got his boot on the ball but sent it wide of the far post.
On 55 minutes, Tim Chow came to County’s rescue when he nodded Marcus Haber’s header off the line.
This was more like it from Dundee now and they came oh so close to levelling when another El Bakhtaoui strike just cleared the Staggies’ bar on the hour.
Holt was cut down by Jim O’Brien as he rampaged towards the County box but Kerr could only blast the freekick into the wall on 70 minutes.
Six minutes later, though, the Dark Blues pulled themselves level from the spot.
Kerr was the man who won the penalty, drawing a foul from Curran.
The man who stepped up to take the kick was skipper O’Dea, who blasted the ball high into the net with his left foot.
With just six minutes to go Haber should have wrapped things up for the Dark Blues but he headed straight into the arms of keeper Fox.
Thus, it could have been three wins out of three for McCann but he didn’t sound too downbeat.
The caretaker boss said: “We would like to have won the game and we set ourselves up to win.
“Even when you think a point might not be a bad result you can see the attitude of the boys – they were driving forward.
“I told them Ross County would come and have a go and for 20 minutes that’s how it turned out. We lost a disappointing goal but they reacted well.
“I think maybe three games go they might have gone under with a lack of confidence but we started to grow into it. After about half an hour I thought we were the stronger side and we totally
dominated the second half.
“We have had a few great chances we are disappointed we haven’t taken but in the whole it’s a decent point.”